The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Appealed to the Armed Forces to Protect the Interest of Citizens More Than That of Traders – Wednesday, 2.6.2010

Posted on 3 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Through a press conference on Tuesday, 2 June 2010, groups of civil society organizations in Cambodia, including the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, the NGO Forum on Cambodia, and the Cambodian Housing Rights Task Force, appealed to the armed forces to protect the interest of citizens, and not that of private companies and traders.

“In the press conference also communities that are affected by land grabbing by companies participated. Also citizens of the Boeng Kak lake community that are facing land grabbing and eviction by the Shukaku company of Senator and Oknha Lao Meng Khin from the ruling party, citizens of the Amleang commune in the Thpong district, Kompong Speu, who are vigorously protesting against land grabbing by the Kompong Speu Sugar and the Phnom Penh Sugar companies of Senator and Oknha Ly Yong Phat from the ruling party, and citizens from Romeas Haek district in Svay Rieng, who suffer from land grabbing by the Peam Cheang Rubber Plantation company, participated.

“A representative of the Boeng Kak lake community in Phnom Penh, Ms. Huot Mony, told the story that has led to violations and intimidations, to grab their land and houses by the Shukaku Inc. company, where many citizens are staff of the Prime Minister’s advisory committees that came to settle there since 1980. In 1993, the number of citizens in the area increased. On 6 April 2006, the Phnom Penh Municipality summoned citizens to meet at the Srah Chok pagoda, informing them that all the citizens in the Boeng Kak lake area would receive land titles – but it then became quiet.

“What makes the Boeng Kak lake residents feel very disappointed and hurt is that the notification of the Phnom Penh Municipality, dated 6 February 2006, said that the Boeng Kak lake area is leased for 99 years for US$79.2 million, with the rate of US$0.60 per square meter, to the Shukaku Inc. company, to develop the area of 133 hectares, where 40 hectares are lake surface.

“Through this agreement, 4,252 families in the Boeng Kak lake area in the Srah Chok commune, Daun Penh district, have been seriously affected by the dredging of sand by the company to fill in the lake. This Boeng Kak lake representative added that the company had laid sand dredging pipes that cause the posts of their houses to become unstable, and they had ordered the authorities to threaten and to prevent citizens from repairing their houses. Some families took out their belongings and the inhabitants moved away, as they were afraid of the danger that their houses might collapse.

“Many problems had happened to the Boeng Kak lake residents – some are concerned that their houses might be burnt down, people might get electric shocks, or their houses might collapse. Sobbing while she was speaking, this representative called on the international community to think about the poor citizens who face evictions, before they decide to grant aid to the Cambodian government.

“Also, a representatives of citizens from the Kompong Speu community in the Amleang commune said that their condition is not much different from what the representative of the Boeng Kak lake area had mentioned.

“This representative said that the Amleang commune residents had worked on their rice fields since before the Khmer Rouge regime, except during the Khmer Rouge regime, and then after 1979, they continued to live on their land, doing farming. Just early this year, Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s company had ordered machinery to clear their farmland and to ban them from farming on their land.

“Facing such a situation leads to serious disappointments, and the activities of the government and of these companies are not a sign of poverty alleviation, but they add a heavier burden on the citizens. In the meantime, it was noticed that when protests against land grabbing took place, private companies often used armed forces to intimidate the victimized citizens. Some cases led to shootings at the citizens, but the perpetrators were not brought to be punished.

“Non-government organizations raised six important demands to the government:

  1. The citizens must be involved in all developments.
  2. There must be proper compensation and agreements when dealing with land disputes.
  3. There must be more effective land dispute mechanisms.
  4. Arrests of citizens over land disputes must be stopped.
  5. The government should be involved in solving land disputes, based on proper procedures.
  6. Armed forces should protect the interests of citizens, and not that of powerful traders.

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3895, 2.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #493, 2.5.2010

  • Land Disputes Increased in 2010, though Land Prices Dropped [according to the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee – more than 80 organizations were involved in 236 cases in 2009, compared to the corresponding period in 2010, there is an increase by 34.3%]
  • More Than 200,000 [Cambodian] Workers Are Working Illegally in Thailand [and seriously suffer from the exploitation of their labor – according to the Ministry of Interior]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2264, 2.5.2010

  • The United States of America Increases the Visa Fees to the USA from 4 June 2010 [from US$131 to US$140 for non-immigrant visas]
  • The King Issued a Royal Decree to Finalize the Appointments of Four Officials, and to Nominate Five Others [as advisors and under-secretaries of state; all of them are officials from the quota of FUNCINPEC]
  • The Number of Traffic Accidents within Five Months of 2010 Decreased, but the Number of Deaths Rose [there were 2,626 cases in 2010 which dropped by 145, but 804 people were killed, an increase by 11 deaths]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #671, 2.5.2010

  • [President of the National Assembly] Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6971, 2.5.2010

  • Traffic Accidents in 2009 Made the Government Waste US$248 Million in 2009 [1,717 people were killed and 7,022 others suffered from serious injuries]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3895, 2.5.2010

  • The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Appealed to the Armed Forces to Protect the Interest of Citizens More Than That of Traders

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #184, 2.5.2010

  • Land Disputes Might Be a Hot Agenda in the Meeting between Cambodia and Donors Today
  • Cambodia Expressed the Position Not to Extradite [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin to Thailand [while the Thai government plans to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin to 187 countries]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5213, 2.5.2010

  • The Forests in Oddar Meanchey Might Bring in US$30 Million from the Voluntary Carbon Market
  • A Tropical Strom Hit Two Districts in Siem Reap and Destroyed 373 Houses
  • Samdech Hun Sen Called on All National Institutions to Strongly Pay Attention to Children [he said so during the 61th anniversary of the International Children’s Day]
  • The National Assemblies of Cambodia and of Iran Encourage the Governments of Both Countries to Establish Embassies
  • Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

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Two Foreign Companies Planning to Develop the Boeng Kak Lake Area Withdraw – Thursday, 18.3.2010

Posted on 18 March 2010. Filed under: Week 656 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 656

“An official of a party having seats in the National Assembly said that some foreign companies that cooperate with the Shukaku Inc. company to develop the Boeng Kak lake area have withdrawn their stakes, because the development in the area involves forced evictions of citizens which might bring a bad reputation for their companies on the international level.

“The Shukaku Inc. company of Mr. Lao Meng Khin, a senator and husband of Ms. Chhoeung Sopheap, known as Yeay Phou, who are very close to Prime Minister Hun Sen, had received the right from the Cambodian government to develop the area with a 99 years contract, which resulted in criticism from national and international organizations and from Sam Rainsy Party officials, as the authorities forcedly evicted citizens from the area.

“A government official told Khmer Machas Srok that foreign companies did withdrew their stakes in the Shukaku Inc. company. But this official did not disclose the identities of the foreign companies. The official added that also the government suspended the development plan for the Boeng Kak Lake for a while.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh and an active activist who assists Boeng Kak Lake residents, Mr. Son Chhay, said that he also got the information, and he welcomes it. He added that he does not oppose the development plan of the government, but he wants a transparent solution for the citizens.

“Mr. Son Chhay went on to say that he received the information over two months ago, and government leaders knew the real story relating to the Shukaku Inc. company that is dredging sand to fill the Boeng Kak Lake by colluding with officials of the Phnom Penh Municipality, while citizens were forced and threatened to remove their houses and leave the area. These activities are cruel and unjust.

“Mr. Son Chhay added, ‘They evicted citizens by force and cruelly to grab the land for the construction of buildings for the profit of their company, and there are many irregularities that the leaders knew and then blamed on others. The company might be stopped from filling the lake and evicting common citizens.’

“However, Mr. Son Chhay could not make sure whether the information is true or not. ‘But we hope that it would be good information for the Boeng Kak residents, if the leader know about the exploitation and the mistreatment of the residents in the area, and ordered to stop these activities.’ He totally supports this.

“Mr. Son Chhay continued to say that he will encourage the government to offer ownership to the residents of the Boeng Kak community where some of them have been living over ten years.

“In 2009, national and international organizations and leaders of the Sam Rainsy Party seriously condemned the authorities’ action to evict the Boeng Kak residents, offering them US$8,000 [per family] as compensation in exchange. Some citizens did not want to suffer violence from the authorities and decided to leave with tears.

“A senior economist said that big international companies with a good reputation worldwide do not want to invest millions of dollars in a country where transparent solutions have not been offered to citizens. The solutions for the Boeng Kak residents came with force and intimidation, and such activities were known publicly.

“The Boeng Kak region extends to more than 130 hectares and was a reservoir for the water in the center of Phnom Penh when there was heavy rain, so that the city did not get flooded.

“The Shukaku Inc. company is dredging sand from the river to fill the lake and it is already almost filled 100% at the time when the new information became available that foreign companies revoked their stakes.

“However, despite the information that two foreign companies have withdrawn, after related problems had been published in newspapers, it is seen that the sand dredging continues sometimes.

“Last year, Boeng Kak Lake residents gathered in front of a foreign embassy when it was assumed that persons with the nationality of that embassy had invested in the Shukaku Inc. company. Consequently, the protest made the investors take out their stakes for the development of the Boeng Kak Lake.

“Nevertheless, there is no public clarification from the Shukaku Inc. company and from officials of the government about the suspension of the development of the Boeng Kak Lake.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #629, 18.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 18 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #437, 18.3.2010

  • 615 Drug Perpetrators Were Sent to the Courts in 2009 [according to the head of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, Mr. Ke Kim Yan]
  • Military Intercepted Seven Luxury Cars That Were Loaded with Kronhoung Wood, Following Officers’ Cars, to Pretend that They Are Part of the Officers Convoy [Siem Reap]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2204, 18.3.2010

  • Ethnic Minority People: The Provision of Concession Land Seriously Affects Them
  • The British Embassy Organized a Debate about Climate Change [according to the Asian Development Bank report in 2009, the temperature will rise by about 4.8 Celsius in 2011, the level of the sea will rise by 8 millimeter within a decade, and the rice yield will drop by 50% in Southeast Asia]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Government Wants to Negotiate with [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra [according to the Bangkok Post]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #629, 18.3.2010

  • Two Foreign Companies Planning to Develop the Boeung Kak Lake Area Withdraw
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Called for a Reduction of Expenses for Those Accompanying Delegates Going Abroad [ some officials take several support staff and their wives with them – getting expenses covered for plane tickets, food, and hotels]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6911, 18.3.2010

  • The Khmer Teachers Association Asked the Ministry of Education to Take Action against Female Students so that They Stop Wearing Short Skirts [the skirts should cover the knees]
  • Drug Criminals Intend to Use Cambodia as a Drug Production Place

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #133, 18.3.2010

  • The Prime Minister: The Cambodian Economy Will Grow by 5% in 2010 [saying that agricultural reform programs, foreign investment, and political stability can be factors contributing to growth in Cambodia]
  • 18 March 2010 Is the 40th Anniversary of the Coup [by Field Marshal Lon Nol] to Oust Samdech Euv [the former King]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5153, 18.3.2010

  • The United Nations Asked the Government Not to Provide Forest and Mountainous Land as Concessions to Companies [which affects ethnic minority people – request related to the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Cambodia is a signatory]
  • FUNCINPEC and the Nationalist Party [the former Norodom Ranariddh Party] Will Unite [before the next elections]

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The Head of the Royal Government Warned Donor Countries – Friday, 9.10.2009

Posted on 10 October 2009. Filed under: Week 633 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 633

“Phnom Penh: Ahead of a meeting about the provision of development aid for Cambodia, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, warned donor countries not to link conditions with development aid for Cambodia.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen considers the linking of conditions with aid as being under more pressure than during the presence of Vietnamese experts in Cambodia after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

“During the 30th anniversary celebration of the creation of the National Bank of Cambodia on Thursday, 8 October 2009, at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia warned that the government will not accept, or even stop receiving foreign aid, if aid is linked with conditions. Recently, the government has canceled the assistance of the World Bank for a land registration program.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen told donors that the government welcomes the involvement to develop Cambodia, but donors should not interfere and link conditions with aid.

“Getting tired of conditions set by donors at present, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen added that, after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, though Vietnamese troops and experts came to Cambodia, Vietnam respected the independence of Cambodia. Decisions in politics and economy were under the authority of Cambodia, different from nowadays.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen stressed that at present, the development aid from the World Bank, from the International Monetary Fund, and from other donors forces the government to listen to their orders.

“In the meantime, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen appealed to donors and friends that assist Cambodia, to understand and respect the independence of Cambodia.

“Donors will meet the Cambodian government later in this year to announce development aid for Cambodia in 2010. After the international meeting in 2009, international development partners decided to provide about US$1 billion to Cambodia, linking it with conditions about the respect of human rights, the solution of land disputes, resettlement of the poor, and especially the creation of an anti-corruption law, an old intention of Cambodia.

“Human rights activists of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) pointed out that some conditions of donors aim, for example, at encouraging the Cambodian government to respect human rights or to address corruption, but not to apply pressure on the government. In this way conditions direct the implementation of laws and fill gaps of the government, so that the aid can reach the poor, and Cambodia becomes a state of law.

“ADHOC activists asked the government to soften their position and to accept aid to assist Cambodia’s poor people, rather than to reject international support, as the country needs aid.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5016, 9.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 9 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #306, 9.10.2009

  • Health Agents Seized 327 Types of Expired Medicines [Phnom Penh]
  • German Government Provides Aid for Ketsana Victims [the assistance of US$37,000 through the World Food Program, supporting to secure the survival of more than 30,000 people affected in Cambodia]
  • Natural Disaster Impacts Tourism in Cambodia

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2067, 9.10.2009

  • Capital of International Reserves of Cambodia Increased to US$2,522 Million [by 21% by August 2009 despite the global economic crisis; said Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • 733 Families in Khvav Commune Eat Manioc Instead of Rice and Call for Aid [Siem Reap]
  • A Notorious Robber and His Son Were Gunned Down by Police when They Shot Back

Khmer Amatak, Vol.3, #658, 9.10.2009

  • Phnom Penh Becomes More Flooded after the Shukaku Development Company Fills the Boeng Kak Lake [with sand]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #505, 9.10.2009

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6774, 9.10.2009

  • Japan Grants More Than US$1.4 Million for Mine Clearance [in Cambodia]
  • The 30th Anniversary of the Creation of the National Bank of Cambodia Was Celebrated
  • A 11-Year-Old Girl Was Lost for a Night and Was Found Dead with Both Eyes Gouged Out [Kampot]

Phnom Penh Post, Vol.1, #22, 9.10.2009

  • Mr. Hun Sen Said that if High Ranking Officials of Cambodia Go to Testify [at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal], It Is Like Killing the Suspects [since they are the ones who overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime; he said so after the foreign co-investigating judge summoned six high ranking officials of the government to testify]
  • [Twenty one] Civil Society Organizations [that work on human rights and provide legal assistance] Asked the National Assembly to Exclude Defamation from the Penal Code
  • More Than 2,000 Workers of the Tac Fat Factory Protested after the Factory Closed [Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5016, 9.10.2009

  • The Head of the Royal Government Warned Donor Countries
  • There Is Much Aid from Japan [US$1.7 billion since 1993], but There Is Very Little [Japanese] Private Investment [only US$129.9 million or 0.6% of the total foreign investment to Cambodia]
  • Vietnam Announced to Support the Candidacy of Cambodia as a Member of the World Heritage Committee

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1804, 9-11.10.2009

  • The World Bank Said that More Than 60,000 Workers Lost Their Jobs Creating Hazard for the Cambodian Economy

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Censorship: Thousands of Crude Porn Sites Accessible on Internet – One Khmer Artist Blocked – Sunday, 1.2.2009

Posted on 2 February 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

When the Cambodian government held a three day consultation in September 2001, the Prime Minister opened it with a speech on Public Awareness about Information Technology. Charting the future, he said:

“The government’s top priority is to use Information Technology – IT – to serve and to meet the day-to-day needs of the people. IT should become as an efficient means for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government and the conduct of government business in accordance with the principles of transparency and good governance…

“IT will help strengthen democracy, ensure transparency, promote good governance in government and community businesses. With regard to the economic and social aspect, IT will improve major public service delivery to the local people and allow them to monitor and receive regularly and timely all kinds of information.”

In February last year, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of transparency again, more specifically in relation to economic development as a means of poverty reduction, in his keynote address 2008 Cambodia Outlook Conference: Mobilizing Cambodia’s Resources – Human, Natural, Financial – for Quality Development, Growth and Prosperity, when he said:

“A healthy private sector is the key to robust economic development and thus the government should ensure the legal framework for fair competition, transparency, accountability and productive relations with the public sector. The overall environment for enterprise will be strengthened through broadened good governance and human resources development. The public sector should also be strong in order to correct the market failures, essentially to reach the poor and disadvantaged.”

Recent days and weeks would have provided ample opportunity to demonstrate the promised open and transparent communication – using information technology, the telephone, and direct talk.

Unfortunately, in spite of repeated pledges to install official spokespersons in the different ministries and other government agencies, and even having trained 18 persons for this task and given them certificates, there is obviously a problem that the basic commitment to transparency – “for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government,” as the Prime Minister said – is disregarded.

Related to the Dey Krahom evictions, which continue to cause deep problems for the men, women, and children involved, we collected the following items from the Cambodia Daily in a single day – Friday, 30 January 2009:

  • “Shukaku representatives could not be reached for comment and CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin [the husband of the owner of the Shukaku company] turned off his phone when a reporter contacted him.”
  • At the office of the Boeng Kak Development committee, an employee declined to provide his name, but suggested, “I think you have to ask Phnom Penh Municipality.”
  • “Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema and his deputies Mann Chhoeun and Pa Socheatvong could not be reached for comment.”
  • After contacting the 7NG company, “a company representative said he would meet Thursday with the residents.” – However, when contacted Thursday, the meeting was canceled.
  • “Chhay Rithisen, director of the municipal land management department, could not be reached for comment. Deputy directors Sek Yorn and Sar Bamnang both directed questions… to Chhay Rithisen.”

Many people do not seem to care about the importance the Prime Minister has accorded to transparency and “to reach the poor and disadvantaged” when there are “market failures” which derail the ultimate goal of development.

Over the weekend there was another blow to transparency in Cambodia. It is widely acknowledged that, in addition to huge resources for knowledge, connectivity, and entertainment, the Internet provides access to pornography – according to experts, there are tens of thousands of pornographic websites. There is no technical Internet blocking of access to these sites in Cambodia, which, as Internet experts recommend that criminal violations of pornography abuse laws should be best handled through legal prosecution, not through arbitrary and ineffective blocking of Internet sites.

Now, however, though not blocking any real pornography sites, some Internet Service Providers in Cambodia have started to block access to the website of a Cambodian artist based in the USA:

When the web site of this Khmer artist became known through the press, he was strongly attacked, accused of destroying Khmer culture because he did not only paint pictures of Angkor Wat stone apsaras, but also of lifelike apsara dancers whose bodies were, like the stone carvings, not completely clothed.

He offers on his website professional hints in painting techniques, and he wrote also:

“I’m trying to build an online Khmer Arts community for novice artists, advance artists, graphic artists, tattoo artists, or anyone for that matter who is interested in Khmer Arts. We can share ideas, discuss about your designs, and network with other Khmer artists from across the United States and around the world.

“The meaning of life is an elusive concept that has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific and theological speculation. For thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life. Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life.

“One of the central views in Buddhism is a non-dual worldview, in which subject and object are the same, and the sense of doer-ship is illusionary. On this account, the meaning of life is to become enlightened as to the nature and oneness of the universe. According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path.

“It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing oneself from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. From this, one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana and that will be the meaning of my life.

“I believe in constructive criticisms! But lately, I’ve received many unwanted complaints regarding that some of my works disgraced the Khmer culture. Judging from the complaints, I wonder how we as Khmer will be able to make it in the 21st century.”

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information announced the intention to “publish services through electronic systems under the control of a law which is being drafted.” This announcement causes great alarm – not only because history has shown that the introduction of censorship of art has often been the entry point to suppress other freedoms, but because the Cambodian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and publication, and the state has to uphold impartiality and protect the rights and freedoms of citizens (Articles 41 and 109).

The wide intent of the draft of this legislation became clear when it was stated:

“All Internet Service Providers which ask for licenses from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication must, in advance, also ask for a second license from the Ministry of Information if this law is adopted, because these companies allow Internet users to connect networks and to use data in different networks.”

Does this mean, for example, that the Ministry of Information might refuse to license the apsara pictures on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which all foreigners see when they apply there for a visa?

Official Visa Application Site

Who in the Ministry of Information will be the authority on expressions of art, or decide – to quote the same Secretary of State – if “pictures can evoke sexual feelings” and should be prohibited? Is the work of art of one person a greater assault on the cultural traditions and remnants of the country than the destruction of the historic Bassac Theater, and now the threatened destruction of the landmark Renakse Hotel, which is the former Ministry of Justice and part of the architectural environment of the Royal Palace?

In the early years of the Internet, when the present Minister of Information was a secretary of state at the same ministry, he wrote an e-mail in 1999 to Bill Herod, one of the Internet pioneers in Cambodia, which was published internationally in the UNDP supported Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2003/2004, when the South China Morning Post in Hongkong had written there would be Internet censorship in Cambodia:

“Dear Sir,

“I do not know where SCMP got this news (“Planned Net law ‘threat to democracy,’” May 31, 1999) , but I can assure you that I am the one who has been fighting and continues to fight for the freedom of Internet access and the free flow of information in general. Everyday I find in my e-mail all kinds of information including some mail insulting me.

“This is a fact of life. When we never attempt to control the import of books and magazines into Cambodia why would we want to block the Internet?…

“Please be assured that I am very supportive of this form of communication and I will spare no effort in defending it. I hope you can help communicate this assurance to all of your subscribers and, if you have any problem concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me.

“Your sincerely,

“Khieu Kanharith”

It is important to recognize that questions of “Cambodian culture” are raised regularly by many different kinds of news. For example, the almost weekly news about the brutal rape and murder of Cambodian children raises questions about how this destruction of human culture is being handled, and no efforts to block the Internet in Cambodia could ever prevent that.

Furthermore, the blocking of the Reahu site will be reported around the world and will attract much more attention than the site would ever have received without such action. That is what also had happened when the introduction of 3G mobile phones was delayed – for fear they could deliver pornography to those who can afford the high cost of this new 3G technology, while crude pornography continues to be cheaply available all over the country where CDs are being sold.

What a pity, that there will again be a flood of negative attention on Cambodia, just as it happened when the prohibition of the Global Witness book on deforestation problems Cambodia’s Family Trees stimulated worldwide attention, which it never could have gained without the prohibition.

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Domestic Violence Affects Family Wellbeing and the Development of Society – Saturday, 27.12.2008

Posted on 28 December 2008. Filed under: Week 592 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 592

“Phnom Penh: A high ranking official of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs said that domestic violence severely affects family wellbeing and especially also the potential for national development.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Sy Define, said that domestic violence affects everyone, whether they are victims or perpetrators, and it affects communities and the nation as a whole.

“Ms. Sy Define pointed out during a workshop about ‘Results of Women’s Forums on Reclaiming Information and Communication Technology to End Violence Against Women’ on 26 December 2008, that harmony in the family is a factor which contributes to develop the country. Women and children must be provided with wellbeing, services, resource management, and opportunities to fully and equally join all sectors of society, and all forms of discrimination in their lives must be prevented.

“Ms. Sy Define added that so far, frequently Cambodian women are still discriminated, even though the Royal Government promotes their rights and provides opportunities for women. She went on to say that domestic violence, human trafficking, sex exploitation, and rape still exist, and these activities are human rights violation which strongly affect Cambodian women and children, adding that domestic violence against women seriously impacts family wellbeing, particularly the capability of children and their development. In total, domestic violence affects everyone – both victims and perpetrators – it affects communities and the whole nation.

“The Executive Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, said that there are many types of domestic violence against women, including physical and mental violence. She referred to a report which estimated that one among three women of the world, one will suffer from the pain of gender related violence some time in their lives. This may be through beatings, rape, attacks, trafficking, killing, contempt, or restrictions on their moving and walking around freely, and through restricting their social communications. She added that domestic violence against women damages their natural capabilities and the lack of women power is against the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

“Ms. Chim Manavy said therefore that publishing the laws about the rights and related various measures is crucial to reduce and to prevent domestic violence against women, where information and communication technology plays a very important role to prevent domestic violence against women.

“Ms. Sy Define acknowledges the importance to publish rights, laws, measures, and interventions to reduce and to prevent domestic violence against women, for which information and communication technology plays a fundamental role, ‘…but we need more time to promote also the understanding of citizens, so that they change their behavior which is conditioned in their minds since a long time ago.’ Ms. Chim Manavy said that most women who suffer from domestic violence do not dare to speak out, because they are afraid of being looked down by society, and they are afraid to receive more violence. She thinks that to stay quiet under domestic violence is wrong, because staying silent will just make perpetrators feel free to continue and to increase violence. Therefore, women must dare to speak up about such problems. She continued to say that there are many ways to report about violence, where information and communication technology is a safe and most effective tool, which can can be used without fear that other people might know about it.

“The discussions in this workshop will lead to see the root of these problems better, and also to see different solutions, and it will lead to closer cooperation with different institutions to lessen violence against women, and move towards gender equality and the promotion of women’s rights in Cambodian society.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1831, 27.12.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 27 December 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1831, 27.12.2008

  • Domestic Violence Affects Family Wellbeing and the Development of Society
  • The King Issues Decree to Change Three Cities into Provinces [Kep, Pailin, and Sihanoukville]
  • Siam [Thailand] Expresses Position about Samdech Hun Sen and the Preah Vihear Temple [Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya said that Thailand has no intention to take control of the temple again, but it continues to cooperate with Cambodia on related matters]; the New Siamese [Thai] Minister States that He Had Known Samdech Hun Sen since 1989 [when peace efforts began in Paris in 1989, leading to the Paris Peace Conference in 1991]; Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Is the First Foreign Leader Who Welcomed Abhisit Vejjajiva after Becoming Prime Minister [according to Mr. Kasit Piromya]
  • German Navy Saved an Egyptian Cargo Ship from Somali Pirates

 
Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #313, 26.12.2008

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Welcomes to Unite Forces for the Elections of Provincial and City Councils in 2009
  • Khmer Gambling Addicts Gather in the Phnom Penh Hotel [of Oknha Ly Yong Phat] and at Naga Casino [after gambling clubs outside hotels were closed by the government]

 
Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #169, 27.12.2008

  • There Are 25 Cases where Armed Forces Violated Citizens over Land Disputes [according to the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO]

 
Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6536, 27-28.12.2008

  • The Thai Prime Minister Wants to Punish [demonstration] Leaders Who Occupied Airports [which led to the loss of billions of dollars ]
  • A Belgian Man Died Immediately after Driving on a Motorbike and Hitting a Truck Carrying Soil [in Phnom Penh]

 
Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3650, 27-28.12.2008

  • The International Monetary Fund Asked the Government to Reduce the Budget for the Military Sector [from US$500 million to US$160 million, otherwise they will reconsider aid for Cambodia]
  • [Boeng Kak Lake] Residents Oppose the Decision of the Appeals Court Letting the Shukaku Company Continue Filling the Boeng Kak Lake

 
Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4779, 27.12.2008

  • New Cancer of Samdech Euv [Father King] Delays His Return to Cambodia
  • The Fifth Commission [the Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Information and Media] of the National Assembly Encourages Vietnam to Invest in Agriculture in Cambodia
  • [Film star] Vang Sreyno’s Fortune Drops: The [Phnom Penh] Municipality Will Probably Not Forgive Her [for causing an accident, damaging the lion statue at the Samdech Preah Sanghareach Chuon Nath Memorial]

 
Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3464, 27.12.2008

  • Cambodia Will Show Present Border Disputes at International, Regional, and World Forums [according the a member of the National Assembly and chairperson of the Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Information and Media, Mr. Chheang Vun]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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Saturday, 20.9.2008: Keat Chhon: Fuel Prices Will Decrease to Riel 4,900 Early This Week

Posted on 21 September 2008. Filed under: Week 578 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 578

“Phnom Penh: Keat Chhon, Senior Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, said that from 22 September 2008, fuel sold at different fuel stations in the Kingdom of Cambodia will cost between Riel 4,900 [approx. US$1.20] and Riel 5,000 [approx. US$1.22] per liter.

“Mr. Keat Chhon said so, after a meeting with fuel companies in Cambodia, following Samdech Hun Sen’s order to decrease the price of fuel, after seeing that the price of crude oil on the world market dropped around 25%, but in Cambodia, there is only an approximate 10% decrease, which is not balanced yet.

“Regarding the improper decrease of the price of fuel, compared with the international market price, Mr. Keat Chhon explained that normally, when the price of fuel on the world market rose by 80%, fuel stations in Cambodia increased the price by 40% only. He continued to explain that the Royal Government of Cambodia, led by Samdech Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, had decided to provide subsidies as a challenge to the rising price of fuel.

“According to Mr. Keat Chhon, during a period of 9 months in 2008, the Royal Government has spent approximately US$200 million quietly in order to overcome the fuel price rise. Related to the efforts of the Royal Government in decreasing the price of fuel, Mr. Po Samnang, the director of the National Culture and Social Morality Center, who had tried to meet the Minister of Economy and Finance, said that he had sent a letter to the cabinet of Mr. Keat Chhon, asking him to encourage a decrease of the fuel price [from around Riel 5,000] to the range of Riel 4,100 [approx. US$1.00] or Riel 4,300 [approx. US$1.05] per liter in order to promote the living standards of the poor and of civil servants, who earn small salaries.

“However, Mr. Po Samnang’s effort was mocked by officials in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, saying, ‘You just drive an old car, why do you come to protest?’

“It should be noted that according to a source from the cabinet of the Minister of Economy and Finance, around 2 million liters of fuel are consumed per day. Therefore, if the Royal Government had decreased the price by Riel 100 [approx. US$0.02] per liter, the state will help consumers to save Riel 100 million [approx. US$24,500]. Nevertheless, what is interesting is that while the Minister of Economy and Finance had announced that the price of fuel will stay increased at around Riel 5,000 per liter, crude oil at the international market decreased from US$147 to US$91 per barrel on 15 September 2008 and rose again to US$97 on 19 September 2008.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1751, 20.9.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 20 September 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1751, 20.9.2008

  • Keat Chhon: Fuel Prices Will Decrease to Riel 4,900 Early This Week
  • Talk between Hun Sen and [Thai new prime minister] Somchai by Phone Has Good Results [both promised to solve the border disputes soonest – 18 September 2008]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Somchai Sends an Envoy to Meet with Mr. Thaksin in London to Ask for Ideas [for the creation of the new Thai ministers’ lists – according to the Bangkok Post]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #248, 20.9.2008

  • The Threat [by Prime Minister Hun Sen] to Sue the President of the Opposition [Sam Rainsy] Party Is a Shut-Up Policy; Lao Mong Hay [Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong]: Suing the Opposition Party President Will Bring Further Turmoil
  • [Secretary of State of the Ministry of Religions and Cults] Min Khin Colludes to Cheat the Prime Minister by Selling the Renakse Hotel [to a daughter of Ms. Chheung Sopheap, the director of Shukaku Inc., filling in the Boeng Kak Lake, without a publicly available, independent environment impact assessment]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #103, 20.9.2008

  • Civil Society Organizations [the Khmer Culture Foundation and the Cambodian Defenders Projects] Welcome the Decision by the Head of the Government to Send a Complaint against Thailand to the United Nations [19 September 2008]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6455, 20-21.9.2008

  • Two Girls Were Abducted and Brought into the Jungle – a [12-year-old] Girl Was Raped, and Another Was Kept as a Hostage to Demand Riel 4 Million [approx. US$1,000 – 18 September 2008 – Baray, Kompong Thom]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3570, 20-21.9.2008

  • Khmer and Siam [Thai] Leaders Plan to Negotiate the Border Disputes during a [UN] Meeting in New York in Late September [according to foreign news agencies]
  • The Asian Development Bank Assessed that the Cambodian Economic Growth in 2008 Will Decline to 6.5% [because of the bankruptcy of important financial institutions in the US and because of the decline of the garment industries in Cambodia, a result of strong competition from other countries]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4699, 20.9.2008

  • [Human Rights Party President] Kem Sokha’s Younger Brother [Kem Sokhon, deputy secretary general of the Human Rights Party], Joined the Cambodian People’s Party [18 September 2008]
  • The Thai Prime Minister Works at the [old Don Muang] Airport [since the government building is occupied by demonstrators – 18 September 2008]
  • The National Election Committee Orders Sam Rainsy to Pay 10 Million Fine for Insulting [three top] Leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party [during the election campaign]
  • Cambodia Has Less People contracting Tuberculosis, while there Is Growing Resistance to Medicines Compared to Bordering Countries
  • Cambodia and Vietnam Encouraged to Exchange Commercial Products at a Volume of Approximately US$2,300 in 2010

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – how the whole Khmer press withholds the final, decisive document from the public, before the Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a World Heritag Site.

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